Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Running

A few years ago, before I got serious with my running, I always felt it was important to run at least once every month. So this would mean once the weather turned cold and the snow began to fall, I would make sure to at least get in one run. Of course, this would mean I would only pick the best of the month and I felt I was really doing something. The rest of the month would be at the gym on the treadmill. Usually at the time I would walk for about 30 minutes.

Then I made that change in my life and decided to become a serious runner.

This meant I would be an all-season runner. Not only would running take place in the nicer times of year, but I would have to start considering running in less then favourable conditions, in particular cold weather. I still don't run in the rain, but that has more to do with a philosophy of creature comfort then anything else.

I'm writing this because it seems winter has not only come early, it's also going to rear its very ugly head a few more times before the Winter Solstice. What I've learned is, just like everything else, running in the winter means a whole different style of running.

There are three concerns when it comes to winter running.

  • Surface Conditions
  • Less Daylight
  • Weather Conditions

    You can say, makes sense and 'of course'. For the first condition, the problem is snow and ice. While the City I live has ordinances for clearing sidewalks, it seems to be left up to interpretation. Plus if the run day is right after a storm, then you've still got problems. I'm trying to think of what's the worse, ice or snow. I think it has to be ice, since the whole slipping concerns. Snow is more of a problem in that it messes with the flow of your running. I've come to realize that running in snow means a slower speed. Traction and just trying to get through it causes the slowdowns.

    The days get shorter, that means a run that starts with some sun, and that's rare because the late fall/winter is a time of more clouds than sun. Compound with it the fact that it could snow at any time and the snow could be light flakes or a snow storm. Surface problems, darkness and weather makes it a strong challenge.

    Sort of touched this the last point, plus there's those great cold temperatures.

    Here's what I've learned when dealing with these conditions.

    Surface- the need is flexibility. Understand that I may not be able to run all the way on the sidewalk and this might mean a few detours onto the road or the other side, if the walkways look better. There are times when the road is just as bad, and the only clear spots are more in the middle of the road. For obvious reason, I would only run in the middle on very quiet residential roads. Otherwise I stay as close to the edge as possible. This also means being even more aware of cars then ever before. It's always easier for me to see them, then for drivers to see me. More then any other time of year, its important to keep eyes forward and looking for problems. I've also taken to wearing spikes on my shoes, they do give more grip and help with running on the ever changing conditions of winter.

    Less Daylight -I have my reflector vest. It's bright orange and has reflector tape on it. May not look pretty but I running to be seen and not to make a fashion statement. I've always felt running means not really caring what I wear. I haven't tried any lights yet. Perhaps later this winter.

    Weather Conditions- everything depends upon this point. In the winter, more then any time of year the weather can be volatile. Yes it could be sunny but then the clouds roll in, the winds pick up and a storm hits. Plus the temperatures begin to drop and can be nasty. There's that old adage that says 'dress so you're cool in the parking lot', never a problem in the winter. With the 'winter from hell' we had last year, staying cool, not the problem, getting warm was the issue. The simple way to deal with running in cold weather is layers. I'm not going to say you can't wear enough because you can. Usually doubling up or a triple layer is sufficient. Also it's important to remember that when cold the body doesn't pump as much blood to the extremities as usual. Now for us men, that word 'extremity' can refer to all sorts of body parts. So double up and keep the boys happy. Just sayin'. One problem I do have is covering the mouth and nose. Since I wear glasses, one problem is lenses fogging up or freezing up. I'm still working on that one, I've tried different things and have a new thing to wear around the mouth. As for a hat, I have a toque that says "This seemed like a good idea three months ago". Still hold true. Wearing a jacket is good, since zipper can act as a temperature regulator. Getting too warm, just unzip a bit. Also weather conditions means flexibility. Once I had planned to do my usual 10k, weather was sunny and very very cold. Between the cold, the frosty and icy glasses, I just got 5km in, and a warning from family to never do that again.

    Winter running can pleasant. Plus being able to run when the conditions are not that good does enhance your stud score, not usually with loved ones because they have long dismissed you as crazy. It can be good to run when its cold, it does get you outside and will help with attitude. Plus with all the food that we eat at this time of year, it helps control the diet.

    So yes I will be outside running.

  • Saturday, November 22, 2014

    My Second Yoga Class

    Had some time this morning and decided to take advantage of the Yoga Class available at the World Gym.

    Most of my Yoga has been online to this point, either on Skimble or through Yoga Download. So it was an experience to attend a class. This isn't my first one, I went to one over the summer. I must say it was a very enjoyable experience. The teacher told us it was going to be a class that would be centred more on the abs then any other part. This was true after the warm-up session. Did a few different planks. Good things I do a lot of planks each day, because it was a challenge. Most of them time it was a combination of full, elbow, dolphin and downward facing dog.

    Another part of the workout was crunches, I even got a few ideas for crunches I can incorporate into my daily work-out. Just on the learning process, it was worth the time it took to drive.

    It ended with a period of relaxation in the savasana pose. As we were in the pose, there was a inspirational reading and the chiming of bells.

    It was a good time.

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Why I do, what I do ( My Motivation)

    I think it was late March or early April that I made a decision about my mornings. Before that I had a simple routine of waking up, having breakfast, watching the news and then getting ready for work. Probably like almost everybody else. Then all those articles came out about the health risks of sitting for prolonged periods. Quite scary stuff and yet that's the way I was going. Sure I did have a few times a week of exercise but still there was the pattern of sitting at home, going to work and sitting behind a desk and then coming home to sit around until bed time.

    This was not a healthy pattern of life, if the numbers are to be believed. That's when I realized I didn't need to watch the news every morning.

    Being a member of the Skimble website, I looked around to determine if I could put together a morning workout program.

    I did and I have.

    At first I would be about 5-6 different programs and now I'm up to about 45 minutes and 11 different workouts.

    My routine contain kettlebell, variation of push-ups, wall sits, crunches and planks.

    Planks are good because they strengthen the core. There is such a great variety of planks that one will never get bored. I'm especially enjoying the Wall Plank. Wall Planks are cool.

    Now I've made the commitment of doing the workout programs at least 5 mornings a week.

    Has it helped?

    I believe it has, I find it easier to wake up in the morning and it does get my heart pumping. At this time of year it's important to do something, since the weather is such a demotivator. Plus any exercise is good exercise.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    New Blog-First Post

    Welcome to my first post on this blog. This is not my first blog but this will be my first one with a narrower focus. I've called it "miles and mats", since I'm going to focus on running, exercise and yoga. Which is what I do with some of my spare time. I'm going to write about the things I've learned, the programs I use and the joys and challenges of these things. I can write about the races I've done, the people I've met and the gear I bought. There is also the way the Internet is impacting running, exercise and yoga- from my point of view, of course. Also anything else that interests me. So thanks for reading. I hope I won't bore you.